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Forgotten, But Not Gone

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2015/10/16 at 12:00 AM

Modern man has avidly accepted the false philosophy that there is no objective truth in the non-physical fields.(Object truth means something is true regardless of our belief about it.)  But it is this non-physical world that distinguishes us from the animals; they live in a physical world and are guided by instinct. The mental world is reserved for man and refers to the areas of religion, politics, fine arts, music, law, among others, and, of course, thinking. With modern man there are no true or false ideas, no good or bad morals, no right or wrong pursuits. Everything is true or false according to his own perception, and no one can legitimately say he is wrong.

One of the negative consequences of this philosophy is the denial of personal sin. When is the last time you heard a sermon on sin? Frankly, I can’t remember one. After all, current thought says we are not really responsible for our “bad” actions because we are “victims” of environment, economics, race, neighborhoods, etc.

Although many people may reject or “pooh-pooh” the idea of serious sin, it is, nevertheless, alive and well, encompassing the entire world. The world is in the mess it is in because of sin. Situations get worse because of the refusal to acknowledge that faulty morality may play a significant role in the world’s seemingly insoluble problems. But to even acknowledge sin is to face the task of repentance. Many serious sins have mass appeal, so changing to a better moral code simply is not an option for many people. A problem not admitted or rationalized is a problem that will remain unsolved. Look around you!

There are consequences to this denial of sin because sin is real and its consequences are real – they exist. Look around you! Sin is really an irrational act. Habitual sin clouds the mind and prevents sensible thoughts about the situation one is in.

Serious sin always demands more. When one sin is not enough to satisfy, eventually 100 will not be enough to satisfy, and the sinner is trapped. He becomes a slave to his sin because it has become part of his mental operation. He loses sight of any of the worthwhile aspects of life because he is driven by the compulsion to sin.

Eventually he may become so hard-hearted that he becomes like a frenzied demon in his pursuit of evil. This could happen to anyone – and probably did to individuals like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, serial killers, etc. A habitual sinner is follower of Satan. You may say, “I don’t believe in that nonsense.”  Well, Satan believes in you, and he is readying you for his kingdom.

Habitual sin separates us from God who is the ultimate goal of human life. One who dies in the state of habitual serious sin cannot except to share eternity with anyone but those like him. There are no former habitual sinners in Heaven. Sin is a violation of divine law, and lawbreakers are not in favor with God. But, the sinner says, “God is so good that He would never consign a sinner to eternal Hell.” God does not consign anyone to Hell or Heaven; we consign ourselves. When we die, the time for repentance is over. Even the inexhaustible divine mercy is unavailable then because in eternity, there can be no change. Besides, when the sinner dies, he will instantly grasp what a fool he has been, but it will be too late.

Modern man has been seduced by the idea of instant gratification; he does not want to wait for anything. “I want it now” is his watchword. However, this is the way of a young child, and it is a sign of immaturity in adults or teens. Habitual sin is instant gratification run amok. Such a person cannot be serious about the serious issues of life because few of them are instantly gratified.

In the story of Adam and Eve, the focus is usually on the actual sin. If we look at the story more closely, we can see that there was a prior mistake: they fell for the idea that sin would make them equal to God. Every habitual sinner has fooled himself into thinking that he, like God, has the right to conduct himself according to his own wishes and desires. That never works, though, because God is God. And, we are not.

The concept of sin may  have been forgotten, but it is by no means gone. It may be forgotten in the sinner’s mind, but it is still as real as it ever was. What you believe about it, one way or the other, does not change the reality of its existence. If you think all this is nonsense, look around you, and tell me how well things are going.

 

 

 

 

What Did You Expect?

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2015/09/25 at 12:00 AM

A man is fined $37,500 a DAY because he built a pond on his own land, but some Federal bureaucrat didn’t think he  should have done so.

Illegal aliens are pouring into the country while the government does nothing about it because the Democrats see them a huge voting block for them.

Hillary Clinton wants to be president with no record of success in any of her government positions.

Senate Democrats refused to defund Planned Parenthood after the revelation of gross scandal. Planned Parenthood gets 500 million taxpayers dollars a year.

Republicans who have the majority in Congress seem paralyzed by indecision and ineptitude.

The news media is totally corrupt and biased as it hardly reported on the Planned Parenthood scandal. Had it been a “conservative” scandal, we still be hearing about it.

The Obama administration has had a singular lack of success in anything but piling on more and more regulations.

The President has spent millions on taxpayer funded vacations because he takes a huge staff with him.

Forty percent of babies are born to unmarried women.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided the history and practice of thousands of years was wrong and declared that people of the same gender could marry legally. The majority opinion was a written a  Catholic who should have known better.

The latest street slogan is: “Black lives matter.” and they do, but where is the clamor about almost 24,000,000 black babies killed in the womb?

Liberals preach tolerance…except for those who disagree with their ideas.

The sexual revolution has spawned an epidemic of sexually-related diseases never mentioned by the media.

The Democratic Party has been called the party of sin because it approves of abortion, partial-birth abortion euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, ssme-sex “marriage” and other immoralities. (I am registered as an Independent voter because I have no respect for either party.)

Congregations come to church on Sunday looking like they are dressed for anything but the serious business  of divine worship.

Political correctness rums amok through the country denying reality and forcing people to pretend the false is true.

Muslims are now invading Europe. Islam has wanted to control Europe for centuries. Now it may the chance because the Europeans had no interest in curbing Muslims extremists in the past 20 years.

Iraq, after thousand of American and Iraqi deaths and tons of American money is worse off now than it was. In Afghanistan, we are no nearer to a solution than we were on the first day there.

And the list could go on and on…

If these facts were incorporated in a novel written about 60-70 years ago, it would have widely panned as too absurd to read. Yet, the it is reality of the present day.

The world was not made by humans.  We don’t even understand most of it.  It was a made by a Creator we call “God”.   As the Creator, He s entitled to make the rules.  He has done so, and He has revealed those rules to us.  Because He also envisioned reward for tie faithful followers, He had to give us  a free will to make decisions, good or bad because rewards have to be earned.  Modern man is making wrong decisions, and when you make wrong decisions and judgments, the negative effects follow until death or the wrong decision is corrected.  Our past and present wrong decisions have caught up to us.  The problem is that God does not change his rules because the Supreme Court says He is wrong.  Abortion and same-sex “marriage” are still wrong in His mind.

So modern man decided to adopt a philosophy that there is no objective truth, that truth arises within the individual’s mind, and  he                                                                             determines what is personally true or false for him.  But that is not reality.  Truth is outside of our mind and we take it into the mind.  It’s called reality, and without a realistic view of life,chaos will follow proportionately.

The other error that  modern man indulges in is to say that God has no business in public life.  Thus, our media,education , government all levels and business are essentially atheistic in practice.  This is not without is baneful effects.

Our ethical standards are now given to us by fellow humans whose have neither the wisdom or the purity of intention to prescribe well.  Look how they have changed the U.S. in the past 50 years.  Humans have been designed to need God and anything else  will not succeed.

Another effector  of this is the loss of ability to think and act rationally.  God is the source of wisdom and rationality.  Since we do not offer Him a  place et the public table, there can be no certain standards by which to measure actions.  We go from failure to failure, stupid idea to stupid idea. How can same-sex “marriage” be anything but a stupid idea; the  anatomical arrangement of two of the same gender are certainly not conductive to what the Creator has in mind when He designed marriage in the beginning of time.

We also lose the ability to chose and implement true values suitable to the human race.  Values are now imposed by the loudest and the boldest.  The why we value pets over people (You can go to jail over animal abuse, but not abortion), blacks over whites, illegals over legals, affirmative action over merit. etc. etc. The  only sins today are racism, sexism and environmentalism (cf. the first item in this essay).

Is there a solution to all this?   Of course..go back to God in huge numbers.  Will we?   I doubt it.   History tells us that no society on the slippery slope has EVER recovered because societies die by suicide.  It as happened 21 time over the be centuries.  The last 40 years of American education has produced people who do not and cannot think about anything worthwhile.  They have no sense of history.  Younger people have a sense of entitlement to be deemed the wisest among us while in reality,they know almost nothing of value to themselves or the country.

We have rejected God, but have set other gods in His place.  Humans are wired to worship something or someone.  We worship drugs, sex, electronic devices galore, sports to excess, political-correctness, one-sided “toleration”, physical fitness and on and on.  We have changed the country so it is not same USA I grew up in.

I hate to pessimistic, but it’s  better to be be realistic.

If you have a true relationship with the Creator, improve it; if you do not, think again.

 

 

Being Objective About Being Subjective by Jack Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2015/06/19 at 12:00 AM

One of the effects of living in a society that substitutes opinion for truth is that subjective judgment becomes the norm for truth. “I believe it; therefore, it is true,” rather than,“ It is true; therefore, I believe it.” Such a person sees truth as a product of his own mind rather than something we discover in the world of reality. One who habitually thinks like this can eventually lose an awareness of the difference between thinking objectively and thinking subjectively.

There is certainly a place for subjective judgments. There are elements of reality that simply do not demand objective evaluation or appraisal. If we are in a restaurant, there is no best meal, or morally good/bad meal, or  true/false meal. Barring other factors, the choice is ours. Many of our everyday choices are subjective and quite legitimate. For example, clothes choice, activity choice, exercise, TV programs, etc.

When we view persons, things or events objectively, we see them as they really are regardless of our personal attitude, feelings etc. about  them. For example, Mozart was a great musician. That is established truth whether we agree or not. On the other hand, it is quite legitimate to say, “Mozart is a great musician, but I don’t like his music” because objective truth is still recognized.

Natural laws are fixed even if we don’t like them. The law of gravity is not subject to our veto. Anyone who would dispute or deny what is objectively true can be said to be literally unrealistic, and his judgments and inferences are suspect.

Negative subjective thinking arises when we view persons, things or events through the eyes of our own biases, likes/dislikes etc. “I don’t like Mozart’s music; therefore, he can’t be a very good musician.” This attitude denies objective reality as the basis of truth.  Any further discussion of Mozart is probably useless with such a person. Moreover, people who thrive on personal opinion see themselves as their own standard and impervious to criticism because they can always say, “Well, that’s my opinion,” meaning that’s the end of the discussion.

Opinion is only as valid as the amount of factual basis that supports it.

One who issues opinions based on not much more than personal bias can never be engaged in productive thinking or discussion with those who view things more objectively. Ultra liberals and  ultra conservatives are examples of this thinking.

The problem with substituting subjective opinion for truth is that when we act on a wrong or false opinion, the results can be negative and usually are. “I believe God is so good that He will save everyone eventually.” “Christ was merely a great teacher like Socrates or Aristotle, nothing more.” “All religions lead to heaven.” “Christ did not mention homosexuality in the Gospels.” “I’m a good person. I don’t need religion.”  “God will take care of me when I die.” What is happening here is that the speaker is substituting his/her wishful thinking for truth. None of these statements conform to Biblical reality, but they are commonly voiced.

We forget that a man/woman must worship God as He sees fit, not as he/she sees fit. Those who “think” like this are, in effect, demanding, or at least assuming, that God should be receptive to his/her opinion even though He has decreed otherwise. After all, truth arises in MY mind, and God should agree with me.

However, truth/reality does not change to accommodate our false ideas and errors.

In matters of religion and faith, it can be eternally dangerous not to seek and hold to objective truth. That was Eve’s mistake; she ignored the objective truth that God had set down and relied on her personal evaluation of the serpent and his offer. Our personal opinions simply do not count if they are at variance with the truth, be it natural or divine. There is no substitute for truth, especially divine truth given to us in the Bible, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church.

Error is error even if everyone is in error and truth is truth even if no one believes it.

Complete list of all articles by Jack Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2015/04/24 at 12:00 AM

The whole series:

01 Is It Just Semantics? – Love

02 Is God God or Are You God? – Purpose & change

03 Contemporary Mischief – Same-sex “marriage”

04 Correct Answer? – Divinity of Church

05 Abortion, A Realistic Viewpoint – Abortion

06 Moslems/Muslims – Islam

07 What is Truth? – Truth

08 Being Objective About Being Subjective – The difference between the two

09 Catholic Christians? – Are Catholics really Christians?

10 What is in a Name? – True Christians

11 Baal and the Tooth Fairy – False gods

12 Rest in Pieces? – Societal decline

13 Blessed Mary, Ever Virgin – Blessed Virgin Mary

14 “Now Let’s Not Be Judgmental” – What is true judgment

15 Art of Conscience – Correct conscience

16 Is That Fr. Phillis? – Women’s ordination

17 The 800 lb. Gorilla – Secularism

18 Some Truths About False Gods – False gods

19 Is Any Religion True? – Man is religious by nature

20 The Dropouts

21 The Great Deception – Sin

22 The Unpreached Sermon: “a layman thinking like a priest” – Christmas/Easter Catholics

23 Let’s Get Real – Reality examined

24 The Siblings of Christ?

25 What Could Have Been – Christmas

26 Coming Storm – Coming persecution

27 The Mythical God – False ideas about God

28 And The Blind Shall Lead – False ideas

29 Freedom, A Paradox – Free Will

30 A Helluva Place – Hell & Damnation

31 Consequences – World without God

32 Mind Over Matter – Truth

33 Life in a Mirage – Effects of immorality

33 A Trilogy of the Unreal – Separation of Church & State; Taking “offense”; Necessity of Morality

34 Signs For Our Times – Introduction & Part I: Unity of the Church – Marks of the Catholic Church

34 Signs For Our Times – Part II: Holiness of the Church – Marks of the Catholic Church

35 Signs For Our Times – Part III: Catholicity of the Church; Part IV: Apostolicity of the Church – Marks of the Catholic Church

37 Semantics of Easter – Easter & Christmas Catholics

38 Another Easter? – Easter Sunday

39 The Bible – A Perspective

40 Abstractions? – Liberal/Conservative

41 The Wanderers – God

42 With All Due Respect – Morality

43 Good Intentions – Moral illusions

44 Ideas and Consequences -Illusions

45 Searching For What Is Not Lost – Lapsed

46 Taking Chances – Mercy

47 Dabbling With Dogma

48 What Did You Expect?

45 Deceptive Labels

50 Forgotten, But Not Gone

 

 

 

What’s In a Name? by Jack Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2015/03/20 at 12:00 AM

Did you know that the majority of those who live in the U.S. label themselves “Christian”?  That  is a great number of people by any standard; yet, by any Christian standard, the United States is a pagan country in practice, if nothing else.

Consider the following: more than fifty million babies have been killed because they were inconvenient for someone…….and the majority is silent.

We spend over 30 billion dollars a year on pets while countless humans lack the basics of food, shelter…… and the majority is silent.

Pornography is another billion dollar business in the U.S……. and the majority is silent.

The media of all types ridicules and distorts Christianity routinely while almost never doing the same to another religion…….and the majority is silent.

Television and movies depict sex and violence as not only acceptable, but, in some cases, as desirable…… and the majority is silent.

Health and fitness have become for many a quasi-religion, ignoring the fact that one’s  spiritual fitness, not physical fitness, determines one’s eternal destiny…….and the majority is silent.

In a nation that says it is overwhelmingly Christian, something is amiss beyond the obvious fact that too many “Christians” are participants in the above.

So, let’s look a little deeper into what research has discovered.

Most Americans say there is no absolute truth.  Most evangelical Christians do not believe in absolutes. (An absolute is a doctrinal or moral principle that is true for all people, everywhere, at all times. For example, the Ten Commandments and the existence of God.)

Most of those 18-25 do not believe in absolutes. The majority of evangelicals believe “that the Bible is the written word of God and is totally accurate in all that it teaches”. BUT, most of Americans say they believe this too which is about the same percentage that reject absolutes. (The Bible is full of absolutes.)

Most “fundamentalists” engage in non-marital sex; about the same rate for non-Christians. Half of the  Protestants and  Catholics are pro-abortion. Half of Evangelicals and Catholics believe in euthanasia. Half of freshman entering Christian colleges cannot explain or defend basic doctrines of the faith. Half of the youth who do attend church do not believe in absolutes.

It seems that the word “Christian” can mean many things to many people. One thing seems obvious which is that too many “Christians” are “cafeteria Christians” who pick and choose what doctrines and morals apply to them.  That is the result of rejecting absolutes.  If there are no absolutes, there can be no abiding truth that we cannot challenge without risk to our spiritual welfare.  We are left with human opinions instead of divine knowledge and revelation.  And the blind lead the blind.

We cannot even begin to change the situation until we recognize that the American Christian world is not in good shape. Then we have to determine how we came to reflect the reality above. There is no salvation in using that name “Christian” only in the name of Jesus.

Note: Poll statistics generalized because of constant fluctuation; sadly on the rising side.

Baal and the Tooth Fairy by Jack Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2015/02/27 at 1:00 AM

Bible readers are familiar with the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Baal was a god widely worshiped in the ancient Middle East, especially in Phoenicia, Canaan, and Babylon. Elijah challenged the prophets (priests) of Baal to a contest to determine which god, Baal or the God of Elijah was the more powerful, and could cause a fiery holocaust. The priests of Baal prayed all morning and all afternoon to no avail; nothing happened.

Before Elijah prayed, he drenched his altar and surrounding area with water, and then he called upon God to show his power. God did so in a spectacular display. The people believed and demonstrated this by executing all the prophets of Baal. This is one of the Bible stories that is rightly used to demonstrate the tremendous power of the God of the Bible.

But, there is another factor here too which is rarely if ever mentioned.  It takes us back to the very beginning of time. The first verse of the Bible tells us that, “In the beginning God….”This means that when God decided to create the universe and everything in it, nothing else existed except Him. When Adam and Eve were created, God was the only God around. This means that every god since then is a man-made god, and, therefore, false.

Every false god arises in the mind of some human or group of humans; they literally invent a god and proceed to worship their own invention, ignoring the fact that the creature can never outrank the Creator. This is the opposite of how the true God established things at the beginning.

Objective truth does not arise in the mind of man. Objective truth exists regardless of anyoneʼs attitude toward it; 2+2=4 no matter what anyone may think about it. We may discover truth and accept it or not, but we do not invent it.

Thus, every man-made god is also non-existent in reality. It may exist in some minds, but not in reality. The prophets did not stand a chance because there WAS NO BAAL to begin with! He was only as real as the tooth fairy, or Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

So it is with all other made-made gods. Astarte was the female fertility goddess of the ancient Middle East, a counterpart to Baal. Her “worship” consisted mainly of ritual sex. But, she did not exist in reality either.

There is no Allah in the real world. True, there are millions of believers just as there are millions of children who believe in Santa Claus, but that does not make him real. The media has a habit of referring to Allah as “God”. Totally false. He is only a god and a made-made one at that.

In the seventh century, Arabia was a polytheistic culture; they had gods for everything.  Allah was a moon god.  Mohammed, the founder of Islam, simply elevated this moon god to special preeminence and declared that Allah was the supreme god. In the real world, Allah is the figment of the human imagination of various Arabs 1500 years ago.

Hinduism has a chief god, Brahman, plus 300 million other gods. None exist in reality. All came from human imagination. In fact, no one really knows where Hinduism came from.

Buddhism is not really a religion because it is non-theistic. (It does not concern itself with any god.) There really was a person known as Buddha, but his doctrine is so anti-human, anti-God that it becomes laughable when really analyzed. For example, God created humans with the ability to experience various licit pleasures. Buddhists claim that all desire for pleasure is evil.

This applies to all the man-made religions and variations that have come down through time. The Kamis of Shintoism do not exist. Maroni of the Mormons does not exist. Pele, the Hawaiian goddess, does not exist. All these and others do not exist now and never did.

No human being can create a being higher in essence than himself. Even material idols such as the Golden Calf or the mass- produced gods of the ancient world began in some personʼs imagination.

That may be true some will say, but these believers in false gods are “sincere”, (one of the most misused words in English when it comes to religion and morality). God will take care of them. No one was a more sincere believer in Santa Claus than I was. I did all the rituals (and my father did not like cake, but I guess he had to eat the piece we put out for Santa.) I admit I believed in him probably as much as I believed in God. Very sincere and very wrong. How would you like your child attending a school where the teachers gave everyone Aʼs regardless of the answers because they were “sincere”?

The basic problem with false gods is that the doctrine that it goes with is also false because it comes from a fallible human mind. Thus we have the insanity of Islamic homicide bombers, laboring in the name of Allah (who does not exist) for a reward that will never come to pass.

The doctrine of the God of the Bible comes from the infallible, inerrant God who simply does not make mistakes or “get it wrong”. The world we live in has become awash in false gods, not only the “religious” types, but other things we worship…. power, popularity, sex, money, pornography, drugs etc. These are also man-made gods, which are just as false and misleading as Baal. We are either worshiping the true God with all our mind, heart and strength, or we are being “suckered” by some false god that some dumb human told us was the latest and the greatest.

Is It Just Semantics? by Jack Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2015/02/13 at 12:00 AM

In the field of language, Latin is classified as a dead language while English is classified as a living language. A dead language is one which is no longer spoken by any recognized group, and, therefore, its grammar and vocabulary will not change. (Latin has been dropped from most schools because “dead” was interpreted as “useless” which it is anything but.)

Since language is arbitrary to begin with, and is designed by those who use it, a living language changes all the time by adding new words, new meanings for old words, words dropped, etc. Words can pick up positive or negative meanings. For example, “pretty” used to mean “sneaky”.  Think of all the new words added to English in the past 30 years.

If you eliminate the English words with Latin or Greek roots, you are left with a very monosyllabic tribal language based on the uneducated Germanic tribes of Anglos and Saxons who settled in England.  Thus, English may be widespread in the world because of American power and wealth (as Latin once was for the same reasons), but it is not a very sophisticated language. For example, the Greek language, much older than English, has about 7-8 words that mean “love” depending on the object of the love. If a Greek uses a form of “agape,” we know he is referring to religious love. If he uses “eros,” we know he means physical love.  If he uses “philos,” he is thinking of friendship.

In English, we use only one word, “love” to cover everything.  Thus we love God; God loves us; we love our spouse, our child, our parents and the country. But we also “love” our team, pizza, ice cream, that movie, a TV program, and we’d love to visit Europe. We even love the dog.

Thus the word love covers so much that it really doesn’t mean much or at least not what it’s supposed to mean.  We have extended the meaning of love to encompass the ideas of like, prefer, hope, desire  etc.

The ability to love is one of those gifts of God that comes with our rational nature.

No other creature can love…not even the dog.  It is like language, law, conversation, fine arts, etc…a peculiarly human gift in that only humans can engage in it.

Love must be rational.  This is why we tend to look askance at infatuation whose root is “silly”.  Love can only apply to rational beings. You simply cannot love ice cream or any other food.  I suggest that these egregious uses of the word “love” may be part of the reason that love doesn’t mean what it used to mean; we have made it a vague and amorphous word.

We need to find a synonym that conveys the idea of love accurately.  We are always hearing that God loves us. Is it a quasi romantic, cutesy, mushy love that cannot even be really imagined, let alone grasped by the mind?  It is because of this false idea of divine love that the error of universal salvation has arisen. “God loves us so much, He would never send anyone to hell.” “God is good that He could never send anyone to hell.”

I suggest we think of love in  terms of “commitment”. Whenever we hear “love”, we think “commitment.” John 3:5 might be more meaningful if we said, “God was so committed to the world that he gave His only-begotten Son…”   “Commitment” suggests a much stronger reality.

All human love should involve commitment to another person. If there is no commitment, the “love” may be based merely on physical attraction (“He’s a hunk.”) or selfish utility  (marrying the boss’s daughter). The highest love involves a dedication/commitment to the spiritual and/or temporal well-being of another person.

There is another aspect of real love that contemporary society has rejected. The best love relationship has a divine component. If you do not have a commitment to God and the things of God, whatever love you offer will be diminished because God is the source of love. A true love song can be used as a prayer, too. Think of “Be My Love”. Then try making a prayer out of modern “love” songs!

When we think of love, think of commitment to someone. That is a strong word…and a bit scary, too. It does give us a sense of what is expected in a love relationship whether it is with God or another person. When we want to have a model of commitment, we need look no further than the Bible and Christ. God didn’t just say he was committed to man, he proved it on at least three major occasions.

The first was Christmas when a divine Being allowed himself to take on human form.

The second was at the Crucifixion when Christ committed Himself to rescue mankind potentially from hell.

The third is a commitment that we don’t usually think of in that way…the Resurrection. This was a commitment to the peace of mind of the faithful who, because of the Resurrection, need never doubt that the Gospels are true history and, therefore, reliable in all that they teach.

As Catholics, rejoice and be glad that our God has shown His commitment to us.

Have we reciprocated that commitment?

Dabbling With Dogma

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2015/01/09 at 12:00 AM

Several years ago, I volunteered to teach a religion class for adults.  No one inquired as to whether or not I was qualified to teach the class – or even about my orthodoxy.  I  had volunteered and that was apparently sufficient qualification.  Years later I read in a book that when the teacher of a class designed for prospective converts was asked about the dogma of Purgatory, she replied, “We don’t believe that anymore.”  Apparently, once again, the fact of volunteering qualified her to teach converts.

It would be interesting to know just who she meant by “we” because Purgatory is a doctrine of the Church and always has been. Yet, some Catholics seem to think they have some divine right to declare some doctrines and morals as passé.  If a particular doctrine fits their mindset, fine; if not, they ignore it.  The problem is that Catholic doctrine and the moral code are not of human origin.  A lawmaker can change his own laws, but not those of higher authority.  The Supreme Court can declare abortion legal, but God does not agree.  Thus, no human can decree that any official doctrine is defunct today.  To do so is a direct challenge to divine authority and wisdom.  No human or group of humans has the intelligence to debate or outthink God . . . although, nowadays, many will dispute this.

As noted above, Purgatory is very much a part of the Church’s teaching.  There are references to it in both the Old and New Testaments.  The Protestant Bible does not contain the books that refer to Purgatory, so they do not accept Purgatory.  The entire month of November in the Church calendar is devoted to the souls in Purgatory who are awaiting their release into Heaven.

For that teacher to claim that belief in Purgatory is passé is rather risky because Purgatory affects so many people after death.  But for the sake of argument, let’s say that the Church did in fact drop the doctrine of Purgatory. What are the implications?  (Ideas do have consequences.)

Purgatory, in Catholic doctrine is a place where the dead who have not atoned sufficiently for their sins while on earth go to make up what is needed.  Since God is a HOLY God, no one can be is Heaven who is not holy.  That means, without any taint of past sin.  Sin and Heaven are totally incompatible.  (It is said that true martyrs and those who obtain a plenary indulgence at the moment of death may be exempted from this rule. )

Without Purgatory, there would be only Heaven and Hell as eternal destinations.  That is unreasonable for a good God because some people may be sinners (we all are), but they do not deserve Hell.  Human life consists of grades of existence.  There is good, better and best.  Report cards range from A to F.  Manufactured goods often have different grades of the same product.  Thus, for God to declare that at the point of death, one must be able to go right to heaven is just about impossible for the average human.  To consign that person to Hell for relatively small sins would be cruel and not part of the divine nature.

I’ll bet that the teacher who denied Purgatory assumes that when she dies, she will find herself in Heaven forthwith.  Since a heretic is also a sinner, according to her doctrinal idea, she must be sent to Hell.  There are many people, like her, who pick and choose doctrines and fully expect that God is such a pushover that He can’t bear to send anyone Hell; therefore, everyone gets to Heaven – at least eventually.  One reading of the words of Christ in the Gospels will dissuade you from that nonsense.

We are all aware that the broad Christian world is in a mess, most of it caused by picking and choosing what doctrines and moral laws to follow as individuals.

Thus,  large numbers of Catholics do not attend Sunday Mass; large numbers use contraception; some support abortion.  Many of those who do attend Church have no sense of reverence at all and act las though they are at a social event.

The problem is that while people may redesign God to suit themselves, God cannot be redesigned and His established rules do not change.  To forget that we are merely creatures made by God, who is the Master of all, invites spiritual catastrophe.  Once we die, there is no opportunity to repent or change ideas.  The exam we call life is over, and grades are given out.

Taking Chances

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2014/10/03 at 12:00 AM

Catholic theology teaches that God consists of three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  All are co-eternal, all equal, and all distinct.  Because, in His very nature, God is perfect, the interrelationship between the Persons is also perfect, meaning that the Trinity lacks nothing and needs nothing else to enhance it in any way.

Yet, God did create the world and the human race simply because He wanted to; there was no need to do so whatsoever.  He wanted to give humans the opportunity to participate to some degree in the divine life, not become divine, which is impossible for humans, but to enjoy a union with God that will never end.

In one sense, this was a pure gift.  God needs no human person or any number of them to make Him more complete.  (If He did need humans, He would be lacking something. And, that means He would not be perfect.)  The world could vanish tomorrow, and He would be none the worse for it.

This union with God is a potential gift, not an absolute gift.  There is a price of admission.  Humans are creatures of God and must honor and obey their Creator in order to attain this eternal union.  Those who do this satisfactorily are what is often referred to as “saved,” or as saints.  Those who fail to follow God’s commands will be eternally deprived of ever sharing divine life.  That is their own choice.

Mankind is morally weak.  He likes what we call “sin.”  (Modern man has deleted the traditional list of sins (i.e. the Ten Commandments), so that for him, the only real sins are racism, sexism, environmental abuse, and being intolerant of  wrong ideas.  Virtue is not easy to attain, and we are constantly “falling off the wagon.”  To reach the eternal reward is a lifetime chore.  God knows that we are weak and too often fall back in sin.  We don’t want to, but we do.  Any sin is an offense against God who is all-holy, but some sins are worse than others, for example, murder (including abortion), adultery,  skipping Sunday Mass for insufficient or no reason, blasphemy, etc.  The only remedy for serious (i.e. mortal) sin for Catholics is to seek divine mercy through Confession/Reconciliation in the Catholic Church.  This mercy is available to every sinner regardless of the number and magnitude of his/her sins.

Divine mercy is not an abstract idea; it is very real. If you have ever committed a mortal sin and confessed it, you experienced divine mercy.  If you lived in a state of on-going serious sin for a long time, but eventually went to Confession, you, too, have experienced divine mercy.  If you have lived in a state of serious sin for a long time, and you are still alive, you are experiencing divine mercy…but for how long?   The millions of lapsed Catholics are experiencing divine mercy…but for how long?

Divine mercy has its limits.  Divine mercy to any serious sinner is a gift.  It is not required of God.  This mercy must be sought by the sinner; it is not automatic. If you insist on living a sinful lifestyle, God will not interfere; it is your choice.  If you ignore divine mercy, you will not receive it. Perhaps worst of all, divine mercy is not available after death.  Then, there will only by judgment.  There is no faith or repentance after death; no faith because you will know with certainty what you once had to accept by faith; there is no repentance because you are now existing in eternity which has no past, present, or future.  Thus, you cannot see your error and claim sorrow for sin….too late.  The die is cast!  The sinner and saint have made their eternal choices, and God ratifies THEM.  He sends no one to Hell; we send ourselves there.  The  time to seek divine mercy is now.

There is a movement developing in Catholic and Protestant circles that suggests Hell may not be eternal, that God is so good that He could not bear to leave people in Hell, and eventually everyone will get to Heaven.  By this thinking, St. Francis of Assisi and Adolph Hitler would both be in Heaven eventually.  Certainly a comforting thought for the sinner, but totally false.  Why would God demand morality in this life if it didn’t really matter if you obeyed Him or not?  Why should people strive for a virtuous life while history’s egregious villains end up in divine favor?  Besides, Christ Himself referred more to Hell than Heaven in the Gospels because He knew it was really possible to go there. And, He never implied it was a temporary place.

I have heard too many sermons in which God’s “love” is extolled beyond reason.  It is usually put forth as a romantic, sentimental, unconditional, and totally undemanding “love.”  No matter how sinful we are, the most we hear from God is, “Tsk, tsk.” But, true love, in any relationship, is a commitment to another person.  Basically, love is an act of the will.  If the Bible says anything about divine love, it says over and over that love toward God is shown only by our obedience to divine law. (“If you love me, keep  my commandments.”)

I met a man who said that he was not at all worried about sin, damnation, and Hell because he didn’t believe in them.  When I was child, I was a firm and sincere devotee of Santa Claus, but my belief did not change reality; there was no Santa Cause.  This man’s beliefs, or lack of them, will not change reality. Sin, damnation and Hell are realities, and their existence is not dependent upon his or anyone’s belief or lack of belief.  Reality is truth, and it exists outside of us; we do not decide what it is.

Divine mercy is real, and if you need it (we all do), it is available for the asking.  After we die, there will be a realization in the sinner’s mind that s/he lived the wrong life, but it will be too late to do anything about.  Lord, have mercy on us NOW.

Searching For What Is Not Lost by Jack Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2014/03/21 at 12:00 AM

I recently had a conversation with a lapsed Catholic who left the Church decades ago. In that time, he has dabbled in several Protestant sects, finding none of them to his ultimate satisfaction.  He told me that what they all amount to is a song and a sermon.  He is a senior citizens with severe health problems. When I suggested that he return to the Church, he demurred, saying that he will find God on his own.

My first question was, “Where will you look?” His response was that if God is there, he can be found.  True enough, but this really applies to those who have never known God and have become sin seekers of the divine.  It does not apply to those who rejected God, once having known him.  For the lapsed Catholic, God is not lost; the lapsed one is, and he needs to find his way back to God.  Since such a person is presumedly in a state of serious sin, it is not likely that God will grant him special favors (although He could.)  Moreover, two thousand years of Christianity have shown that not only is God not lost, but that He has revealed Himself to mankind.  If He has revealed Himself, He is not lost and needs to be found.  The sensible thing is to find out where He is now and go there with great haste.

Another question was, “What kind of God are you looking for?” In my experience, it seems that those who are “looking for God” always seem to find one that agrees with their values and moral code.  Modern man has made hobby of remaking God to suit himself.  The problem that is that it is not the true God regardless of how much you are satisfied with your god.  These homemade remodels usually demand nothing, applaud everything and, to be right in fashion, are not judgmental about you.  If we do not have a relationship with the true God, any substitute is a false god and just as effective as no God . Our invented god is fool’s gold, alluring, but worthless.

The last question is , “How will you know if you have found God, and how will you evaluate Him?”  If you consider God to be of significant importance in your life, it is imperative that you find or return to the right one. It must be the God who can do for you what needs to be done to bring you to eternal life, the goal of every human being.  What criteria will you use to make the judgment?  Since you have, at one time, rejected the true God, your homemade god can do nothing for you because you are a human and have no control over eternity.  God has revealed Himself to us through the Sacred Scriptures, and Tradition (ex. the Church Fathers), and the Church.  He established and only these sources are the means to connect with the real God.  No other effort will work as well. While most religions have elements of truth, only the three sources mentioned above have all the truth in one place.

One who says he intends to find God is acknowledging he has lost God (who, by nature, can never be a a lost being).  Such people are often not amenable to rational arguments because reason will lead to reality and reality is out of favor with them at this time. But God is not limited by our naiveté and stupidity. His grace is all-powerful. Praying and sacrificing for the lost among our family and friends is the best way to help.  God is a master at bringing lost sheep home.